Department of Justice Dogfighting-Related Press Releases

If you haven’t scrolled through the increasing list of mugshots in “Recent Dogfighting Busts and Why They Matter to Cats and Kittens, Not Just Dogs,” I encourage you to because we have 40,000 dogfighters in the United States alone (which amounts to an average of 800 per state), and they’re killing the cats, kittens, rabbits and dogs that people have been posting on Craigslist, Facebook and other apps. You could help save a lot of lives by warning family, friends and people in community groups on social media that bait dogs, cats, kittens and other animals are not a myth as some BSL opponents want you to believe, that dogfighters don’t look how people expect them to look and that a dogfighting arrest in your city does not mean the dogfighter’s in prison or that police have “shut down” a dogfighting ring. It’s nice when the feds get involved because then they do go to prison — for years — and don’t get parole as you’ll see in the following Department of Justice dogfighting-related press releases.

CLEVELAND/AKRON, OHIO — Dogfighter Ronald Smith, 39, who has homes on Fultz Street and Herman Avenue in Akron, was charged with “15 counts of possession and training of dogs for the purposes of an animal fighting venture; conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance; distribution of a controlled substance; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and felon in possession of a firearm” after U.S. Marshals arrested him in June. They’d posted a reward for information leading to his arrest in May. Evidence against Smith includes:

  • two treadmills for dogs;
  • “a caged rabbit placed in front of a treadmill;
  • performance-enhancing and first-aid-related dog medication;
  • numerous “break sticks” spattered with blood and bearing teeth marks; and
  • a walled pit spattered with blood” at both homes.

Investigators seized eight “pitbull-type dogs” from one home and seven from the other. They also seized oxycodone and fentanyl.

“Smith is prohibited from possessing a firearm due to previous convictions of aggravated assault, burglary, possession of cocaine, trafficking heroin, having weapons under disability and disrupting public services in the Summit and Medina County Courts of Common Pleas,” the DOJ reported. – July 2022

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA — “Beginning in November 2019, law enforcement investigated a criminal organization involved in dog fighting based out of Richmond and extending into Baltimore, Maryland. In late 2020, law enforcement agents executed three residential search warrants in Virginia and one residential search warrant in Maryland and seized numerous dogs that were being used for organized dogfighting, together with dog-fighting paraphernalia, firearms and ammunition. During the investigation, [Raymond L.] Johnson communicated with his co-conspirators about breeding and fighting dogs, past dog fights, coordination of upcoming dog fights, and other topics detailing the business and the brutality of dogfighting.” – March 2022

MACON, GEORGIA – “A well-known dog-fighting trainer and breeder has pleaded guilty to a federal animal fighting charge as the result of an ongoing investigation into a significant multi-state dog fighting and drug trafficking ring. Vernon Vegas, 49, of Suwanee, Georgia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to participate in an animal fighting venture before U.S. District Judge Tilman E. ‘Tripp’ Self, III on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Vegas faces a maximum five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a maximum $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for December 7, 2021.” – September 2021

ALBANY, GEORGIA – “The last four of 12 defendants convicted on federal dog fighting charges were sentenced to federal prison on Friday. Leslie Meyers aka Les, 45, of Tallahassee, Florida, was sentenced to serve a total of 123 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act and unlawful possession of a handgun by a person with a prior felony conviction. Kizzy Solomon aka Kizzy Andrews, 44, of Camilla, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison after a federal jury convicted her on Tuesday, June 22, of 15-counts of aiding and abetting the possession and training of dogs for purposes of an animal fighting venture. Orlando Johnson aka OJ and Juiceman, 35, of Americus, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act. Kevin Charles aka Trinidad, 45, of Jackson, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act.

“The following co-defendants were sentenced to prison after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Welfare Act:

  • Kentre Gibson aka Gipp, 40, of Douglas, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 21 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on July 21;
  • Terry Driggers, 71, of Hoboken, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 17 months in prison to be followed by two years of probation on July 22;
  • Maurice Glover, 48, of Douglas, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on July 22;
  • Starlin Morgan, 39, of Plains, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 11 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on July 21; and,
  • Timothy White, 51, of Patterson, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 11 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release on July 21.

“The following co-defendants were sentenced after pleading guilty to attending an animal fighting venture (misdemeanor):

  • Germany Brockington aka Rat and Gator, 34, of Ambrose, Georgia, was sentenced to serve seven months in prison consecutive to his current prison sentence on Aug. 17;
  • Alonza Jordan, 48, of Americus, Georgia, was sentenced to serve three months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release on July 21; and,
  • Shadon Johnson, 37, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, was sentenced to serve two years of probation on July 21.” – September 2021

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA:  “A Georgia man has been sentenced in federal court in connection with a dog-fighting ring broken up in 2018 in Dodge County. Benjaman Shinhoster III, a/k/a ‘Benji,’ 41, of Louisville, Ga., was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to Sponsoring and Exhibiting a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture, said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. also ordered Shinhoster to pay a fine of $2,500 and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.” – August 2021

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA:  “All of the defendants charged in connection with a dog-fighting ring broken up in 2018 in Dodge County have admitted guilt to federal charges now that the operator of the dog-fighting facility has pled guilty.” – July 2021

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – “Four defendants pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to federal dogfighting and conspiracy charges for their roles in an interstate dogfighting network across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey.” – June 2021

PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA – “A federal grand jury returned a 27-count indictment today against Carlos Villasenor, 38, of Placerville, charging him with possession of dogs for use in an animal fighting venture, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. According to court documents, on June 17, law enforcement agents executed a federal search warrant at Villasenor’s property and seized 27 pit bull type-dogs, one of whom had injuries to its face consistent with an attack from another dog. Many of the dogs also had untreated veterinary conditions. Numerous implements of the dog fighting trade were found on the property, including a breeding stand, treadmills, and veterinary supplies including skin staplers, antibiotics, syringes, and IV bags. Investigators also found paperwork indicating that Villasenor owned dogs used in dog fighting.” – June 2021

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – “Jermaine Hadley, 32, of Quincy, Florida, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Friday, June 4, 2021. Hadley headed a drug trafficking organization affiliated with a violent gang in the Gadsden County, Florida area that was responsible for the distribution of over 50 kilograms of methamphetamine, over 15 kilograms cocaine, MDMA, possession of illegal firearms, in addition to facilitating a largescale dogfighting ring throughout the north-central Florida Panhandle between 2018 and 2019. … A total of 21 defendants were arrested and have been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing from the long-term investigation into drug trafficking and dogfighting …” – June 2021

DUBLIN, GEORGIA:  “Three of seven defendants have admitted in court to participation in a dog-fighting operation broken up in 2018 in Dodge County. Benjamin Shinhoster III, 41, of Augusta; Deveon Hood, 34, of Tennille, Ga.; and Andre Archer, 23, of Sandersville, Ga., entered guilty pleas today [Wednesday, May 26] before U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr., said Acting U.S. Attorney David H. Estes. Shinhoster pled guilty to Sponsoring and Exhibiting a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture, while Hood and Archer each pled guilty to Conspiracy. Each of the charges carries a statutory penalty of up to five years in prison, with substantial financial penalties and up to three years of supervised release after completion of any prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.” – May 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – “Marcus Etienne, a/k/a ‘Hitler,’ and Mario Robinson were sentenced today to 34 and 32 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The sentences were handed down by the Honorable William Alsup, U.S. District Judge. The sentences follow guilty pleas by both defendants. According to their plea agreements, Etienne, 39, of St. Martin Parish, La., and Robinson, 37, of Opelousas, La., and Oakland, Calif., were involved in an enterprise based in St. Martin Parish consisting of more than seven members who conducted a continuing and extensive narcotics distribution conspiracy. Etienne admitted that he was the leader of the enterprise beginning as early as 2009. The defendants both acknowledged that the enterprise engaged in narcotics distribution, assault, robbery, extortion, extortionate collection of extensions of credit, murder for hire, murder, money laundering, illegal firearms possession, gambling on dogfighting, and obstruction of justice. Robinson further admitted that in 2015, he moved from California to Louisiana and began receiving marijuana from the enterprise to distribute in Louisiana.” – October 2020

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – “Antoine Clayborne, 42, formerly of Pearl, Mississippi, was sentenced today by Senior U.S. District Judge David Bramlette III to 36 months’ probation for his participation in a pit bull dog fighting venture, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Dax Roberson, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General.  Clayborne was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine.” – July 2020

MACON, GEORGIA – “Eleven federal search warrants were executed Wednesday morning related to suspected violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and drug trafficking, resulting in the rescue of 168 canines, announced Charles ‘Charlie’ Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.” – February 2020

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – “United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Santerrio Montinez Smith, age 32, of Columbia, was convicted by a federal jury on a dog fighting charge after a day-and-a-half long trial before United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis. The jury took just two hours to find Smith guilty. This was Smith’s second federal conviction this year; in August, he was convicted after trial for distributing and conspiring to distribute cocaine and heroin. Smith was convicted of Buying, Possessing, Training, Transporting, and Receiving Animals for Purposes of Having the Animals Participate in an Animal Fighting Venture. He faces a maximum possible penalty of 5 years in prison for his conviction.” – October 2019

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – “Five individuals were arrested yesterday on a 44-count federal indictment charging violations of the dogfighting prohibitions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, and conspiracy to commit those violations.” – September 2019

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – “A federal grand jury returned an indictment, unsealed today, charging eight defendants with 83 counts of federal dogfighting offenses stemming from an investigation into drug trafficking and a large-scale illegal dogfighting operation involving approximately 100 dogs. The indictment was announced by Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.” – June 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – “Robert Arellano, 65, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced today in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, to a total of four years in prison for his role in a multi-state dog fighting conspiracy. Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito of the District of New Jersey made the announcement.” – April 2019

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – “United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that Tony Shuler, a/k/a ‘T Rock,’ age 47, of Columbia, South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court after pleading guilty in September to being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition, and to Buying, Possessing, Transporting and Receiving an Animal for Participation in an Animal Fighting Venture.” – February 2019

NEW YORK CITY (THE BRONX), NEW YORK –  “In August 2018, the Office secured the first-ever trial conviction of a dog fighter on federal animal cruelty charges.  The defendant, Rasheem Richardson, kept and trained at least eleven pit bull terriers at a residence in the Bronx.  Richardson enlisted these animals in dog fights and agreed with others to breed his dogs for the purpose of producing additional fighters.  In November 2018, the Court sentenced Richardson to 27 months’ imprisonment.” – November 2018

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – “Damiane Buehrer, 40, of Jonesville, Michigan, was sentenced yesterday to serve 46 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for participating in a dog-fighting conspiracy between November 2016 and December 2017. … Buehrer and four co-defendants were indicted on April 18, 2018, for conspiracy and for unlawfully possessing animals to use in dog fighting, along with equipment to train and condition them for fighting. The remaining co-defendants, including Charles Joseph Miller, Kian Maliak Miller, Charles Deon Davis, Jr., and Jarvis Jason-Roy Askew, have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Buehrer was convicted in State court in 2010, under Michigan’s animal-fighting statute. Between November 14, 2016, and December 7, 2017, as part of the conspiracy, Buehrer—who had just been released from the Michigan Department of Corrections in August 2015 after serving a five-year-sentence for the same activity—acquired and possessed four dogs for the purposes of breeding, training, conditioning, and developing them to fight other dogs for prize money in underground and illegal contests that routinely result in dogs being wounded, maimed, and killed. Buehrer’s dogs, along with 33 other dogs owned by his co-conspirators, were rescued by Federal and state law-enforcement agencies as part of the investigation.” – November 2018

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – “United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced that U.S. District Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick sentenced ERIC LASHAWN WILLIAMS, a.k.a. ‘E’ and ‘EZ,’ age 35, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to 70 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. On July 2, 2018, Williams pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 46.5 grams of heroin, 285 grams of cocaine and 28.35 grams of marijuana, one count of the unlawful use of a communication facility, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  WILLIAMS also pled guilty to a Bill of Information charging him with violating the Federal Animal Welfare Act by possession of animals in animal fighting ventures. … During the investigation into WILLIAMS’ drug trafficking, law enforcement agents became aware that WILLIAMS was also involved in an illegal dog-fighting operation.  Law enforcement intercepted WILLIAMS and others over numerous telephone conversations regarding the results of dogfights in states including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Georgia, future fights, the stakes (cash) wagers on upcoming fights, as well as the breeding, sale, and training of dogs for dogfighting.” – October 2018

TAMPA, FLORIDA – “Josue Antonio Ortega (36, Dade City) today pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to distribute heroin and to violating the animal fighting provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison on the heroin charge, and up to 5 years in federal prison on the Animal Welfare Act charge. According to the plea agreement, Ortega participated with others in a dogfighting conspiracy. In 2016, he and his co-conspirators, operating as Boricuba Kennels, sponsored pit bull dogfighting in Pasco County. On October 19, 2016, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Ortega’s property and seized 14 pit bulls—12 of which had wounds and scarring consistent with having recently fought—along with equipment used to condition the dogs for fighting. They also seized over 70 grams of heroin.” – August 2018

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA – “United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the conviction of a defendant [COREY T. BROWN a.k.a. “Black,” age 31, of Baton Rouge] charged in connection with an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation targeting a drug trafficking network based in Baton Rouge and operating in Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi.  During the course of the investigation, law enforcement uncovered an illegal dog fighting operation.  Numerous defendants [Eric Lashawn Williams, a.k.a. “E” and “EZ,” age 35, of Baton Rouge, MARCO MURPHY, a.k.a. “Big Daddy,” age 34, of Baton Rouge and ED WILLIAMS JR., a.k.a. “Cooter,” age 31, of Baton Rouge] were charged with significant drug trafficking offenses involving cocaine, marijuana and heroin, as well as violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.” – August 2018

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI – “Ance Payton, 42, of Jackson, pled guilty today before United States District Judge Tom S. Lee, to possessing several illegal drugs with the intent to distribute them, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Dana Nichols of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In 2017, the Jackson Police Department received several complaints from Crime Stoppers and concerned citizens about a home on Plantation Boulevard in Jackson, Mississippi. Law enforcement began an investigation that included physical surveillance. During that time, they saw hand-to-hand transactions and other indicators of drug dealing. … In their search, detectives recovered a revolver, which Payton illegally possessed. They also found evidence of illegal dog fighting, including twelve pit bulls.” – July 2018

TAMPA, FLORIDA – “Tyler C. McGovern (32, Pasco County) has pleaded guilty to one felony dogfighting count, in violation of the animal fighting provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has not yet been set.” – June 2018

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – “A Maryland man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to engage in dogfighting, as well as a separate role as a ringleader in a credit card fraud and identity theft scheme.” – April 2018

TRENTON, NEW JERSEY – “Four men have been sentenced to federal prison terms for their respective roles in an interstate dog fighting network that extended from New Jersey to New Mexico and Indiana, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, District of New Jersey, and Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, announced today.” – March 2018

DUBLIN, GEORGIA – “On March 23, 2018, the United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking the possession of 63 pit bull-type dogs that were allegedly involved in a dog fighting venture in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  Pursuant to a federal warrant, the animals were seized on March 19, 2018, in Eastman, Georgia, by United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) special agents working with the United States Marshals Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol (GSP), Oconee Drug Task Force, Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.” – March 2018

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announces that United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced six North Carolina men this week for engaging in illegal dog fighting and selling narcotics in the Onslow County area. The following individuals and their sentences are listed below.

  • Leo Junior Chadwick, 64 of Hubert (60 Months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release & $25,000 fine)
  • Aaron Richardson, a/k/a “Jit”, 42 of Jacksonville (96 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release & $25,000 fine)
  • Cedric Gerard Cook, 39 of Fayetteville (45 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release, $5,000 fine)
  • James David Martin, 39 of Maple Hill (4 years probation, including 6 months of home confinement)
  • James Leslie Golden, III, 47 of Ayden (4 years probation and 100 hours of community service)
  • William Jay Farrior, a/k/a “Bo”, 37 of Maple Hill (48 months imprisonment and 5 years supervised release) …

“The investigation revealed that Chadwick had been involved in raising and training dogs for the past 35 years.  Evidence taken from Cook’s Facebook account showed that he had admitted to fighting dogs since he was 14 or 15 years old.  Martin hosted one of the fights on his property, while Golden attended two of the fights.

“Upon the arrests of the defendants in December 2016, search warrants were executed on four properties suspected of containing dogs and dog fighting paraphernalia.  In that process, approximately 156 dogs were seized, including some that were pregnant at the time.” – December 2017

EAGLE SPRINGS, NORTH CAROLINA – “Today a federal magistrate judge unsealed a superseding indictment charging Brexton Redell Lloyd, 54, of Eagle Springs, with one count of conspiracy and thirteen counts of violating the animal fighting prohibitions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, announced Acting United States Attorney Sandra J. Hairston for the Middle District of North Carolina, and Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.” – September 2017

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – On the day jury selection was set to start, Ehbrin Castro-Correa, a.k.a. ‘Chino, plead guilty to one count of animal abuse, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. Immigration and Customs Enforcement- Homeland Security Investigation (ICE-HSI) handled the investigation. Castro-Correa was facing trial on two counts of knowingly and unlawfully possessing and training an animal for purposes of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture and one count for attempting to transport an animal for the purpose of having the animal participate in an animal fighting venture, specifically from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic.” – June 2017

COLUMBUS, OHIO – “Charles A. Granberry, 40, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 72 months in prison for conspiring to participate in a dog-fighting ring in central Ohio, illegally possessing a firearm and violating the terms of his supervised release. According to court documents, an undercover law enforcement officer met with Granberry and others over a two-week period at two houses in Columbus in March 2016. The officer saw evidence indicating that the house was used to train, fight and sell dogs, including at least 20 fighting dogs in the rear yard of one house that were chained to heavy automobile axles buried in the ground. Granberry described the fighting style of his dogs to the undercover officer and boasted about his dogs’ prowess during dogfights. He sold a dog to the undercover officer for $2,500 and advised that the dog could fight immediately because of its breeding and conditioning. Officers executed search warrants on April 5, 2016 at five Columbus houses. Agents seized evidence including 46 dogs along with cages, treadmills, heavy chains and collars and other items. Agents found canine blood on the floor and walls of the basement of one home indicating that the area was used as a dog-fighting pit.” – April 2017

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA – “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court yesterday, United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced three members of a Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina family relating to dog fighting, drug, and firearm conviction. ELTON GARY, 47, was sentenced to 72 months imprisonment followed by 10 years of supervised released for the exhibit and sponsor of an animal for the purpose and participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting; attending an animal fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon; possession with intent to distribute more than 50 but less than 100 marijuana plants and aiding and abetting; and maintaining drug involved premises and aiding and abetting.  His wife, ERICA POWELL GARY, 44, was sentenced to four months of imprisonment followed by 5 years of supervised release for felony dog fighting and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon charges. ZHAQWAUN JEVONTAE GARY, 22, was sentenced to six months imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release, for  a felony dog fighting charge.” – October 2016

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – “The United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking the possession of six pit bull-type dogs which were allegedly involved in an interstate dog fighting venture in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act, announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman for the District of New Jersey. According to the complaint filed yesterday in Newark, New Jersey, federal court: The six pit bull-type dogs were seized on June 1, from a private residence in Westville, New Jersey, pursuant to a federal search warrant.  The residence was owned by the family of Justin Love, 36, of Glassboro, New Jersey, who was arrested the same day and charged by criminal complaint with violating the Animal Welfare Act. The condition of a majority of the dogs, including scarring and aggression towards other dogs, was consistent with dog fighting and related training.  For example, one of the female dogs, subsequently identified as ‘Momba,’ had severe scarring and showed signs of other serious injuries consistent with her participation in dog fights.  Her physical condition also indicated that she was used for breeding, which was further corroborated by intercepted phone conversations allegedly involving Love.” – September 2016

CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY – “A Cumberland County, New Jersey, man allegedly connected to and living with an individual involved in a dog fighting conspiracy was arrested today for possessing dogs for the purpose of dog fighting, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, District of New Jersey, and Assistant Attorney General John Cruden, DOJ Environment and Natural Resources Division, announced. Robert A. Elliott, Sr., 47, of Millville, New Jersey, was charged by complaint with two counts of possessing pit bull-type dogs for dog fighting ventures in New Jersey and elsewhere.” – September 2016

ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA – “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that in federal court today, ZHAQWAUN JEVONTAE GARY, 22, pled guilty to Possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting. On April 5, 2016, his father, ELTON GARY, 47pled guilty to exhibiting and sponsoring an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; attending an animal fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting in the same; possession of firearm and ammunition by a felon; possession with intent to distribute more than 50 but less than 100 marijuana plants and aiding and abetting; and maintaining drug-involved premises and aiding and abetting.  On April 21, 2016 his mother, ERICA POWELL GARY, 44, pled guilty to possession of an animal for the purpose of participation in a fighting venture and aiding and abetting, and possession of firearm by a felon.” – July 2016

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – “Six New Jersey residents were among nine individuals charged today in four states for their alleged roles in an interstate dog-fighting network spanning from New Mexico to New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman for the District of New Jersey and Assistant Attorney General John Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice announced. … Criminal complaints filed in New Jersey named the following individuals, eight of whom were arrested:  

  • Anthony “Monte” Gaines, 35, of Vineland, New Jersey (already in state custody on unrelated charges)
  • Justin Love, 36, of Westville, New Jersey
  • Lydell Harris, 30, of Vineland, New Jersey
  • Mario Atkinson, 40, of Asbury Park, New Jersey
  • Frank Nichols, 39, of Millville, New Jersey
  • Tiffany Burt, 34, of Vineland, New Jersey
  • Dajwan Ware, 43, of Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Pedro Cuellar, 46, of Willow Springs, Illinois
  • Robert Arellano, 62, of Albuquerque, New Mexico

“From October 2015 through the present, the defendants and their associates participated in dog-fighting ventures in which pit bull-type dogs were set up for matches to maul and attack each other and fight – often until one or both dogs die – and facilitated these ventures by transporting and delivering dogs between dog fighters in various states. The federal undercover investigation revealed that the defendants discussed graphic accounts of prior dog fights they and their associates staged and furthered their dog-fighting ventures through the exchange of information concerning dog-fighting bloodlines, training methods, fighting techniques and the market for buying and selling dogs.” – June 2016

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE – “After a five-day trial, a federal jury convicted a man of conspiring to distribute multiple kilograms of cocaine and launder large sums of drug proceeds. Prior to the trial, the defendant pleaded guilty to partaking in a dog fighting enterprise. Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the guilty verdict today.

“According to information presented in court, Daniel Scott Sr., aka Old School, 51, of Memphis, Tennessee, conspired with several others to distribute and did distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine between March 2014 and May 2015. … Over the same time period, Scott conspired with others to locate and develop various properties to serve as the staging area for housing and training American Pit Bull Terriers and hosting dog fighting gambling shows. Additionally, pit bulls were purchased, trained and bred for participation in the dog fight gambling shows.” – May 2016

GEORGIA – “United States Attorney Michael J. Moore announced today that Raymond Lee Hendrix a/k/a ‘Georgia Lee’ and ‘Lee,’ of Echols County, Georgia; and Willie Henderson, of Lowndes County, Georgia, were sentenced in United States District Court in Valdosta to by the Honorable Hugh Lawson, Senior District Court Judge. Mr. Hendrix pled guilty on June 25, 2015 to one count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor and exhibit a dog in an animal fighting venture.  He received a sentence of 16 months imprisonment.

“Mr. Henderson entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor and exhibit a dog in an animal fighting venture and to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on June 25, 2015.  Mr. Henderson was sentenced to the maximum term of imprisonment of 60 months on Count One followed by a sentence of 63 months imprisonment on Count Two with 33 months, to be served consecutively, for a total sentence of 93 months imprisonment.

“In their plea agreements, Mr. Hendrix and Mr. Henderson admitted that between January 2008 and August 2013, they operated Clyattville Kennels, maintaining and training American Pit Bull Terriers for other dog fighters in exchange for a “tipping fee”, breeding and registering American Pit Bull Terriers and participating in organized dog fight gambling events throughout the Southeast.” – September 2015

AKRON, OHIO – “An Akron man was sentenced to two years in prison for operating a dog-fighting venture and related counts, law enforcement officials said. Alvin Banks, 56, was also ordered to pay more than $44,000 in restitution to the Human Society of Greater Akron. Banks pleaded guilty earlier this year to five counts: sponsoring and exhibiting a canine in an animal fighting venture; buying, selling, delivering, possessing, training and transporting canines for participation in an animal fighting venture; attending an animal-fighting venture; being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition and possession with intent to manufacture and distribute less than 50 marijuana plants.” – June 2015

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – “An indictment charging 24 members of a large-scale narcotics organization from the Ravendale neighborhood on Detroit’s east side was unsealed today, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced. Joining McQuade in the announcement was Special Agent in Charge Paul D. Abbate, Federal Bureau of Investigation. The indictment also charges six of the defendants with participating in an extensive illegal dogfighting ring.” – August 2015

ALBANY, GEORGIA – “U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore announced today that Arthur Lee Clark a/k/a ‘Bilbert,’ age 42, of Sumner, Georgia; Demitri Jackson, age 38; William Burns a/k/a ‘J.B,’ age 42; all of Albany, Georgia; and Timothy Hopkins a/k/a ‘LO,’ age 42, of Hiram, Georgia, were sentenced for conspiracy to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.  … Demetri Jackson was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison.  Timothy Hopkins received a sentence of 35 months in prison.  William ‘J.B.’ Burns must serve 24 months in prison.  Arthur Lee Clark was sentenced to serve 3 years on probation. According to the indictment, the defendants operated a dogfight gambling enterprise, named ‘229 Boys Kennels, Inc.,’ from about April 2006 to April 2010 in Albany, Georgia.” – May 2015

AKRON, OHIO – “Ten people were indicted in federal court for attending an animal-fighting venture, law enforcement officials said. Indicted are: Alvin Banks, 56, of Akron; Carlton Davis and Anthony L. Harris, both 41 and both of Gary, Ind.; Donell Higginbotham, 35, of Pittsburgh; Mark Terrell McCraw, 29, of Hersporia, Calif.; Samuel G. Mobley, 38, of Gastonia, N.C.; Corey B. Moorefield, 45, of Pittsburgh; Darius D. Muse, 24, of Victorville, Calif.; Ryan A. Sadler, 32, of Gastonia, N.C. and Tommy L. Walker, 60, of East Chicago, Ind.” – December 2014

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA – “In early 2013, as a result of community complaints, the FBI’s Columbia Violent Gang Task Force (CVGTF) – comprised of agents of the FBI, the Columbia Police Department, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the South Carolina National Guard — initiated an investigation into the drug activity occurring in and around a downtown Columbia neighborhood.  …  During the course of the investigation, agents learned that the individual who supplied cocaine to the organization was also involved in purchasing, breeding, and fighting dogs. A search warrant was executed Friday during which agents seized a dozen dogs from a property in Gaston, SC.  Upon arriving at the scene, ASPCA responders found dogs exhibiting scars and injuries commonly associated with dog fighting. The dogs were found chained and anchored to car axles, with trash barrels being used as makeshift shelters.  Adult dogs and puppies were found severely emaciated and dehydrated, and the remains of deceased dogs were also discovered on the premises, along with dog fighting paraphernalia.  This was the second warrant executed on this property this month.  On October 1, agents searched the residence of the alleged drug supplier for evidence of his involvement in drug trafficking and dog fighting. At that time, agents seized 35 dogs, along with drugs, guns, and cash.” – October 2014

ALBANY, GEORGIA – “U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore announced today that Arthur Lee Clark, age 41, of Sumner, Georgia; Demitri Jackson, age 37; Tedrick Jackson, age 38; William Burns, age 41;  Otha Hopkins, age 47, all of Albany, Georgia; Timothy Hopkins, age 41, of Hiram, Georgia; and Michael Bass, age 40, of Ashburn, Georgia, were indicted for one count of conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities and to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture and three counts of sponsoring and exhibiting a dog in an animal fighting venture. According to the indictment, the defendants operated a dogfight gambling enterprise, named ‘229 Boys Kennels, Inc.,’ from about April 2006 to April 2010 in Albany, Georgia.  The defendants produced, promoted and participated in dogfight gambling shows throughout the Southeast, including other parts of Georgia and Florida.  The defendants bred, purchased, sold, and trained American Pit Bull Terriers for the purposes of dogfight gambling.  The dogs were bred with dogs owned by, purchased from, and sold to individuals from other parts of Georgia, Florida,  Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina.” – May 2014

DELAWARE – “United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, announced today that a federal grand jury last week returned two superseding indictments charging a total of fourteen men with various violations of federal law.  … The second indictment contains charges relating to the Sponsoring of Animals in Dogfighting Ventures, in violation of Title 7, United States Code, Sections 2156(a)(1). … The dogfighting indictment alleges that between the dates of January 17, 2014 through February 19, 2014, Defendants Edward Sturgis, age 38 of Dover, Robert Ingram, age 30 of Dover, William Chapman, age 42 of Dover, Tyshi Hazzard, age 36 of Rehoboth Beach, and Deshawn Groce, age 39 of Dover, engaged in a conspiracy and two substantive offenses alleging violations of the federal dogfighting statute.  If convicted of any of these offenses, the charged defendants could face up to five years imprisonment, in addition to fines and supervised release.” – May 2014

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – “On Friday, August 23, 2013, the following people were arrested after being indicted for violations of the federal dog fighting statute and the federal gambling statute:

  • Donnie Anderson—48 years old, of Auburn, Alabama
  • Demontt Allen—37 years old, of Houston, Texas
  • William Antone Edwards—42 years old, of Brantley, Alabama
  • William Oneil Edwards—39 years old, of Elba, Alabama
  • Robin Stinson—40 years old, of Elba, Alabama
  • Michael Martin—54 years old, of Auburn, Alabama
  • Lawrence Watford—35 years old, of Adel, Georgia
  • Ricky Van Le—24 years old, of Biloxi, Mississippi
  • David Sellers—52 years old, of Opelika, Alabama
  • Sandy Brown—47 years old, Brownsville, Alabama

“The 30 count federal indictment charges that between 2009 and 2013 the above individuals conspired to promote and sponsor dog fights, and conspired to possess, buy, sell, transport and deliver dogs that were involved in dog fighting. The indictment further charges individual defendants with promoting or sponsoring a dog fight and with possessing, buying, selling, transporting and delivering a dog for fighting purposes. Lastly, these defendants were charged with conducting an illegal gambling business.

“On Friday, August 23, 2013, agents executed 13 search warrants, 11 in Alabama and two in Georgia. Agents seized 367 pit bull terriers that appeared as if they had been fought multiple times, guns, illegal narcotics, drugs used to treat and train dogs, and other evidence indicative of dog fighting. During the course of this investigation, agents also seized over $500,000 from dog fighters involved in this organization.” – August 2013

TYLER, TEXAS – “A Texas man has been indicted on a federal charge of sponsoring dog fighting, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today. Vertrick Jordan, 47, Tyler, Texas, is charged with one count of conspiracy to engage in an animal fighting venture. The indictment alleges that Jordan conspired with two other men to engage in animal fighting. The men are Pete Davis, Jr., and Melvin L. Robinson, who are scheduled for sentencing Sept. 9 after pleading guilty to a federal charge of transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture.” – July 2013

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